In Virginia, what are the roles of the judge and the jury in the trial of a personal injury lawsuit?

personal injury lawsuit

The below information was written by our personal injury lawyers in Virginia Beach.

Personal injury lawsuits in the Virginia Court System can be filed in either the General District Court or the Circuit Court. For a discussion on the differences between cases filed in the General District Court and the Circuit Court, click here.  For cases filed in the General District Court, there is no jury, so the trial judge decides all questions of law and fact that arise at trial. In the Circuit Court, however, those duties are divided up between the trial court judge and the jury, if either party requests trial by jury. The Circuit Court trial judge makes decisions concerning the admissibility of evidence, the competence and privileges of witnesses to testify, and other legal questions that arise during the course of a case. The jury in a Circuit Court case determines the credibility of witnesses and the weight to be given to the evidence.

In making decisions regarding the credibility of witnesses and the weight of the evidence, jurors must only consider the evidence presented in the case, and prospective jurors who are familiar with the parties to the lawsuit, witnesses who will testify in the case, and/or the facts of the case are routinely removed from the panel of jurors so that their familiarity with the parties, witnesses, and/or facts of the case do not influence their decision making. Jurors in personal injury cases are routinely read an instruction from the Virginia Model Jury Instructions, stating that the jurors “may consider the appearance and manner of the witnesses on the stand, their intelligence, their opportunity for knowing the truth and for having observed the things about which they testified, their interest in the outcome of the case, their bias, and, if any have been shown, their prior inconsistent statements, or whether they have knowingly testified untruthfully as to any material fact in the case.”

At the conclusion of the evidence and argument by the lawyerss, the jury will move into a private room, where they will discuss the facts of the case and attempt to come to a decision regarding who was at fault for the accident and what amount, if any, should be awarded to the plaintiff. The verdict of the jury must be unanimous, but if the jury cannot come to a unanimous decision, a mistrial is declared and the case will be tried again on a later date with a new jury.

Questions regarding the admissibility of evidence and what issues are matters of law to be decided by a judge and which issues are factual to be decided by a jury are specific to the individual personal injury case, and we encourage you to contact our personal injury lawyers in Virginia Beach.   We can determine what witnesses are necessary to prove the injured person’s case, what damages the injured person can seek in the case, and how best to present the injured person’s claim to the judge or jury.  As in all personal injury cases, an experienced personal injury lawyer can also advise the injured person as to the value of the injury claim, can guide the injured person through the process of making a claim with the applicable insurance company or companies, and can represent the injured person in the litigation of the personal injury claim, if a personal injury lawsuit becomes necessary.

Waiting can hurt your case. To find out how our personal injury lawyers in Virginia Beach can help you, please contact us at (757) 486-2700.

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